Planning to Fail (PART ONE)

SCRIPTURE STUDY IN JAMES 4:13-17

First, I would suggest you have your Bible close by in this study, for I’m going to be addressing your FUTURE.

[13] Now listen, you who say,  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  [14] Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  [15] Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  [16] As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.  All such boasting is evil.  [17] If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

GOOD INTENTIONS [Additional Bible verses: 1 John 3:18; Colossians 3:1-25; Psalm 126:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:4;Psalm 119:105;2 Peter 1:20-21; Romans 13:1-7; John 7:16, 14:15].

Verse 13:  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”

Most of us are interested in the future.  We want to know what’s ahead of us down the road in our families, our job, our community, and yes, our church.

People have different ways of looking ahead.  Would you believe that some use tea leaves, others use palm reading, others even use astrology?  Those are a little more sophisticated.  The real books like Megatrends and other things, trying to understand what the FUTURE holds are too numerous to name.  So I want to look closely at what God has revealed in His Word.

In James Chapter 4, we read a story about a first-century wheeler-dealer, a boastful businessman, a man who was making plans for his future.  

The man in the story, who in many respects, would be called a successful man in the first century or the 21st Century.  But let me first give you a definition of failure I once read about years ago in a journal.  It most likely will be a different definition than you’re used to:

“Failure is succeeding at the wrong thing”

Everyone in your community, your workplace, maybe calling your life a SUCCESS and you may secretly see yourself as an abysmal FAILURE.

THREE MISTAKES

This man in the story made three mistakes we should avoid.

First, beware of Self-centered Planning.

Listen to this man.  Get inside of his head, if you can, on his planning for the future.  He’s looking forward to a tremendous, successful, business endeavor.  And first of all, he’s planning the period of time it will take.  Look in verse 13:  “a year…”

Now this man, in his thinking, says, “All right.  Today, or tomorrow, I’m going to go to a city and I’m going to stay there a year.”  So I don’t know about you, but I can see this man pulling out his calendar.  He has his sharp pencil while he’s looking at these things.  And so, he encircles this day and draws a line through this year and he says, “That’s where I’m going to invest my time this coming year.”

But he’s not finished yet!

He’s also PLANNING the place where he’s going to.  Get out the travel brochures and the laptop!

Look again at verse 13:

“I will go into such a city…”

Now he has a ton of cities out there to choose from.  But he’s looking at THIS city, the advantages here, the advantages there.  He says, “That’s the city!”  And so on Rand’s Road Map, he puts a circle around THIS city.  Over here on the calendar, he has the DATE underlined.

So he has already planned the place, and he’s planned the time period.  But not only that, he goes on to plan something else.

Planning the Procedure.

Now he’s going to BUY and SELL.

Evidently, he has some marketing plan up his sleeve.  Maybe he has a degree in Marketing from the University of Jerusalem.  And he says, “I can buy the product for this and I can sell it for that and I can make a tidy profit.”

So he has planned.  He has planned the period, the place, and the procedure.  He’s also planned the PROFIT: “…I will buy and sell and make a profit.”  THAT’S IT!

It sounds good to me,  It isn’t like he’s doing anything wrong.  The Bible certainly doesn’t condemn business; it encourages it.  The Bible doesn’t condemn planning or making a profit either.  It encourages it.  These things are not wrong.

So, what then is wrong with this man?

Well, he left God out of his plans altogether.  He’s not consulting with God nor is he seeking God’s WILL in this.

This seemingly ‘self-made man’ is like so many today.

Your WORSHIP LIFE is one thing, your BUSINESS LIFE is another thing.

You’ve divided your life into the secular and the sacred.  And so you come to church and worship, and then plan your life as if there were no God.  Oh, you might run your plans by a family member, a close friend first before going ahead with your plan.  You know, it’s good to get a second opinion.  And the biggest fool isn’t the man who says there’s no God; the biggest fool is the man who says there’s a God and then doesn’t live like it!

THE KEY

Do you really take God into your planning?

The key to all of this is in VERSE 15:

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

He’d not said, “Lord, what is Your will?”  He’s not seeking the will of God first.  He’s not saying, “Oh God, show me Your will?”  He says, “I’m going to do it this time.  I’m going to do the procedure–I’m going to make this kind of money.”

How many times in my Christian life have failed to seek God’s will in my plans?

Have you ever asked God, “Lord, BLESS what I’m doing,” rather than, “Lord, help me to do what You’re blessing” to find really the will of God?

God wants to show you His will.

He wants to show you His will as you look toward your future.  Here are a few encouraging Bible verses to meditate on.

PSALM 32, VERSE 8 – Here’s A PROMISE:

I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. [AMP]

By the way, to GUIDE with God’s eye means that you have a very close relationship with Him.

When my children were little and my wife and I both sang in the church choir, they would at times be cutting up.  Nobody else would know it, but I’d look down and say from the choir loft, “You’re going to get it, right where you are!”  And then go right on, just GUIDING with our eyes.  There, and they’d straighten up.

That’s the kind of intimate relationship we need with the Lord.

JOHN 16, VERSE 13 –

Jesus gives the PROMISE with more specificity, speaking of the Holy Spirit:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”  [NIV]

We have a heavenly GUIDE.  He’s the Holy Spirit.  He’s here to LEAD us.

One more verse, Romans 8, VERSE 14 –

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  [AMP]

How wonderful it is to know that we’re sons and daughters of the King–God’s GUIDING us with His eye.  How wonderful to hear His voice in a dark world, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  How wonderful to be led by the Spirit of God.

God has a PLAN for every area of your life, no, just at your church.

Your education, your business, your marriage; God has a PLAN for your life.

DO YOU WANT IT?

[Continued in PART TWO]

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CREDITS

PHOTOS/IMAGES:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

SOURCE:  Topical Bible – What Does the Bible Say About Good Intentions.

 

 

Things Seldom Work Out Exactly the Way We Plan

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(verses 1-2):

[1] AS DAVID sat in his house, he said to Nathan the prophet,  Behold, I dwell in a house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord remains under tent curtains.

[2] Then Nathan said to David,  Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.

Here we see that David is living in a pretty nice house.  I dwell in a house of cedars.  Since CEDAR wood was especially valued, it means David lived in an expensive beautiful home.

David remembered that the ark of the covenant of the Lord was under tent curtains and the contrast got under his skin. David was troubled by the thought that he lived in a nicer house than God’s Presence at the ark of the covenant.  So his desire needed a PLAN.  That was who David was.

My PLAN “A” versus God’s Plan “A” –

329794e8f685ce0454e65bf00f7623d9Without saying the specific words, David told Nathan that he wanted to build a TEMPLE to replace the TABERNACLE.  

I have often repeated a quote by Will Smith when people when people ask, “If things don’t work out the way you’ve plan, what is your PLAN B?”

“There’s no reason to have a plan B because

it distracts from plan A.” ~ Will Smith

More than four hundred years earlier, Israel was in the wilderness and God commanded Moses to build a tent of meeting according to a specific pattern (Exodus 25:8-9).

God never asked for a permanent building to replace the tent, but now David wanted to do this for God.

The Tent of Meeting–

The tent of meeting–also known as the tabernacle–perfectly suited to Israel in the wilderness, because they were constantly on the move.

Now that Israel finds themselves securely in the land, and the tabernacle is in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17), David decides it would be better and more appropriate to build a permanent structure…A TEMPLE, to replace the tabernacle (PLAN ‘A’).

CONFIRMATION OF PLAN “A” – Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.

Nathan said this to David because it seemed like a good and reasonable idea.  I don’t know about you, but if someone like Nathan came to me with his godly counsel, telling me my desires…my ideas were BLESSED; do all that is in your heart, for God is with you…I would probably jump up and down and shout Hallelujah!  “Lets get this thing done!”

What could be wrong with David wanting to build the TEMPLE then?

All that is in your heart shows that David’s heart, his mind, his soul was filled with this question:  “What can I do for God?”

He was so filled with gratitude and concern for God’s glory that he wanted to do something special for God.

(Vs. 3-6):  God Corrects Nathan’s Premature Advice–

[3] And that same night the word of God came to Nathan, saying,  [4] “Go tell David My servant. Thus says the Lord: You shall not build Me a house to dwell in.  [5] For I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel from Egypt until this day; but I have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another.  [6] Wherever I have walked with all Israel, did I say a word to any of the judges of Israel whom I commanded to feed My people, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?”

That very night that the word of God came to Nathan, his response to David was found presumptuous.  He answered according to human judgment and common sense, but before the word of God came to him.

For I have not lived in a house since the time that I brought up Israel, even to this day.

God seemed honored and “surprised” at the same time when David offered to build Him a house.

“You want to do what? No one has ever offered to do that before, and I never commanded anyone to do it.”

David wanted to do more than God had said to do.  

This is a wonderful place to be in our relationship with God.  Most of us are so stuck in thinking, “How little can I do and still please the LORD”, that we never really want to do more than God asks of us.

I love what Spurgeon says on this matter:

“Though the Lord refused to David the realization of his wish [his plan], He did it in the most gracious manner.  He did not put the away from him in anger or disdain as though David had cherished an unworthy desire, but He honored His servant even in the non-acceptance of his offer.” 

David now knew that God didn’t want him to build the TEMPLE, but David didn’t respond by doing nothing.  Instead of building the house of God, David gathered all the materials for the upcoming construction project so Solomon, his son, could build a glorious TEMPLE to God (1 Chronicles 29:2-9).

God’s Plan “A” – He Promises to Build David a House instead (vs. 11-15):

I will set up your seed after you…

[11] And it shall come to pass that when your days are fulfilled to go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.  [12] He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.  [13] I will be his father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy and steadfast love away from him, as I took it from him [King Saul] who was before you.  [14] But I will settle him (Him) in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his (His) throne shall be established forever more.  [15] According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

How would I feel coming up with a great idea, a plan, then finding out someone else is going to get the credit? Anger, envy, jealousy, disheartened, devastated and more?

David’s response to the change in plans had nothing to do with “feelings”.  His loving relationship with his heavenly Father took precedence over feelings of personal success.  God must have a better a better PLAN “A”.

God has a better plan that comes with promises.

David is told,  not only will your son build Me a house, but I will establish his throne forever.  God’s PLAN promised David that the reign of his dynasty will last forever.

Each of these great promises revealed within God’s PLAN is partially fulfilled in Solomon, David’s son, successor to his throne.

*  Solomon ruled on David’s throne.

*  God’s mercies never departed from Solomon, though he sinned.

*  Solomon built God a magnificent house.

Yet, God’s Promise to David was all the more important…because when the Chronicler (Ezra) wrote about it–after the  exile, when there wasn’t an independent kingdom of Israel, and the throne of David seemed vacant–the PROMISE wasn’t broken, even when all appeared that it was.

The Chronicler knew that Messiah would indeed come from the seemingly dead line of David and reign forever.  He had FAITH in what the prophets foretold as a greater fulfillment of God’s PLAN:

Jeremiah 23:5-6 ~

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch (Sprout), and He will reign as King and do wisely and will execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name by which He shall be called:  The Lord Our Righteousness.

Isaiah 9:6-7 ~

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.  [7] Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [later] time forth, even forevermore.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Luke 1:31-33 ~

And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus.  [32] He will be great (eminent) and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His forefather David,  [33] And He will reign over the house of Jacob throughout the ages; and of His reign there will be no end.

God did not want the earthly house built until…

Until the SPIRITUAL HOUSE was promised and established.  The more important house had to be in place first, and that house was the dynasty and was the result in the throne of God’s Son.

What is our response when we think our plans are so meaningful, so exact, so wonderful in furthering the kingdom…and then God says no?  Let’s look had David’s response.

David’s Thankful Response to God’s Plan (16-22):  *Note – You will need your Bible to read along.

Who am I O LORD God?…O LORD there is none like You

When David received this spectacular gift, he didn’t think it made him any greater.  In David’s eye, it made God greater.

David’s attitude wasn’t “I’m so great that even God gives me gifts.”

Our attitude in receiving…

We should receive th gift of our SALVATION and every BLESSING with the same attitude as David’s.  God’s giving reflects the greatness of the Giver, not the receiver.  [*See Footnote [i] ]

Your servant

David’s humble reception of this gift is shown by the repetition of the phrase Your servant ten times in this prayer (15-27).

It shows that David humbly accepted God’s “no” when he wanted to build the TEMPLE.

Bringing Boldness in Prayer – (23-27)

“And now, O LORD, let the word that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant and concerning his house, be established forever, and do as Thou hast spoken.

“And let Thy name be established and magnified forever, saying ‘The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel; and the house of David Thy servant is established before Thee.’

“For Thou, O my God, has revealed to Thy servant that Thou will build for him a house; therefore Thy servant hath found courage to pray before Thee.

“And now, O LORD, Thou art God, and has promised this good thing to Thy servant.

“And now it hath pleased Thee to bless the house of Thy servant, that it may continue forever before Thee; for Thou, O LORD, hast blessed, and it is blessed forever.”

(The NASB translation)

David’s conversational prayer boldly asked God to do what He promised.  This wasn’t a passive prayer:  “Well God, do whatever You want to do–I don’t care one way or another.”

This wasn’t an arrogant prayer either that said, “Well God, let me tell You what You need to do here.”

This was a BOLD PRAYER–that said, “God here is Your promise.  Now I trust You to fulfill it grandly and to be faithful to Your word.”

Confidence in Prayer Comes from the Blood of Jesus–

I love a verse in Hebrews that reflects bringing boldness to our prayers with confidence.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus…”  (Hebrews 10:19).

Prayer that comes from the heart –  Therefore Your servant has found it in his HEART to pray before You.

Notice that David’s prayer was coming from his heart.  Some people pray from a book, others pray from their head.  But oh, what a difference it makes when we pray from our hearts.


 Credits, Footnotes, Photo credits:

Referred Commentary by David Guzik 2006.

Footnote [i] : from David Guzik’s commentary.

Photo Credits: Google Images.

Bible Translation for this Blog:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

The Most Important Times in Our Life…in the Meantime!

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Whatever happened to Mercurochrome?

Although dating myself somewhat, okay, a lot–moms had been daubing Mercurochrome antiseptic on their kids’ owies since the Harding administration.  Then in 1998, the U.S FDA, put out a report that the generically known merbromin (Mercurochrome) was “not generally recognized as a safe and effective” over-the-counter antiseptic.

No Scars Here!
No Scars Here!

Now when my kids we growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, my wife Dianne used a O.T.C. ointment Neosporin – (from Neo, (Greek) new; Sporos (Greek) seed).  According to my wife, and much public proclamations, Neopsorin not only helped in the healing process but prevented scarring as well.  How accurate that claim might be medically, we used it (and still do) on every wound and “owie” that came along.

My God is like Neosporin–

Applied on a wound, a week later, there will be no evidence of a wound or a scar.  When the Lord heals, you are healed without scars and no evidence of ever being wounded, ever been down and out, ever being sick.

Ecclesiastes tells us,

“TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven;  A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,  A time to kill and a time to heal…”  (Ecc. 3:1-3 a. AMP).

In studying the well-known verses, I found that the most important time is…in the meantime; while you’re waiting on your own blessing; waiting on a miracle.

You have said for GOD I live and for GOD I die…but, in the MEANTIME, are you going to sell your body to make ends meet?  Are you going to rob someone to pay your bills?  In the MEANTIME, are you going back to work at a part-time drug dealer, going back to your wicked ways?

Always looking in the rear-view-mirror in the meantime…

When you are spending so much of the present, focusing on the past, you totally ignore your future.

The Lord goes beyond time…

He sees our past…

He knows our future because…

He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,

The Author and Finisher of our Faith (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; Hebrews 12:2).

NOTHING BUT LEFTOVERS:

There used to be a time when people gave their EVERYTHING to GOD.  But now, we don’t seem to want to give Him nothing but leftovers.

GOD has a right to give you a “leftover blessing”–

We want to show up late, leave early.  We want to be ‘average Christians’–doing ‘average things’–GOD has a right then to give you an “average blessing.”

I don’t now about you folks, but I need the LORD “to do exceeding and abundantly above all that I can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Thank GOD I don’t look like what I’ve been through–“You see the glory but don’t know the story!”

There were many of nights in my past where I laid awake in tears with the problems I was to face the next day.

A DESPAIRING CRY!

Have you ever had a “despairing cry”?  You cried until there wasn’t any tears left.  You got so upset until you couldn’t eat and then your body starts to get sick.

But look at you now.  You are healed without scars; you don’t look like you’ve been through what you have gone through.  You have been healed without scars; I have not been through what you have gone through but, we all have a story to tell about.  How I never would have made it if…it had not been for the LORD who was on my side.

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A “In the Meantime” Story–Joseph was a tattle tale!

Genesis 37:2 says, “and Joseph brought to his father a bad report of them”  (the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s [secondary] wives; AMP).

His brothers hated him for several reasons.  If being a “tattle tale” wasn’t enough in the family, being the FAVORITE child, because he was born in Jacob’s old age, didn’t help the situation either.

I had a brother who was 7 years my junior.  I certainly wanted a little brother, a companion to do things with–but with such differences in age, we had little in common and I’m sure many harbored jealousies in growing up.  Later in adulthood, we became closer and still so today [another story on another day].  There was a lot “…in the Meantime between childhood and adulthood.

Then Joseph had a dream…

Now having a dream and sharing with the family is not a bad thing, but when Joseph’s sharing involves the future; where he is going to be the “ruler over them”…they hated him even more.  Joseph’s father loved him more than the other children and when he shared even a second dream… they were jealous and fully of envy.

When ungodly people see GOD’S favor, they will hate you.  Keeping it real, when some church folks see GOD’S FAVOR on you, they become “favor haters”.

Joseph’s Special Coat wasn’t by Armani, but by Jacob!

Joseph was given a special coat from his father.  A normal coat in those days was cloth about ten feet long with a hole in the middle and no sleeves.

Joseph’s Coat had sleeves and dyed in many colors (Gen. 37:3).  I think Joseph more than likely wore this distinctive coat where ever he went and this fit in nicely with the brothers plans to get rid of their problem (Gen. 37:23).

Father Always Liked You Best!

“Then they took him and cast him into the [well-like]pit which was empty; there was no water in it”  (Genesis 37:24 AMP).

And …in the Meantime…

Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver to a caravan of merchants that were passing by and at the age of seventeen…he was sold in Egypt to Potiphar, and officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the [royal] guard (Gen. 37:36).

Joseph didn’t know the details at the time, but because of GOD’S FAVOR on his future… he was but 13 years away from a promotion.  At the age of 30, when Joseph appeared before Pharaoh, Joseph would be placed in charge of all of Egypt’s grain conservation programs.

But in the Meantime..

Consequently, Joseph spent a total of 13 years in Potiphar’s house–then in Potiphar’s prison.  A long time for a proud, intelligent young man to have to “waste” time in servitude and in prison.

But in the MEANTIME…in GOD’S PLANNING, Joseph was but two years away from a promotion,  Then one year away, one day, one hour, five minutes away from a promotion.

In GOD’S PLANNING...in the Meantime, nothing was wasted in Joseph’s life.  Just the necessary preparation for a great position of leadership and deliverance.  GOD’S CALLING is always specifically arranged and in Joseph’s case…there wasn’t an exception.

Young People, take note of , “in the Meantime!”

Often, young people feel they should be promoted to positions of leadership and recognition in the Lord’s work–especially those who feel they have spiritual gifting–evangelists, teachers–almost as soon as they become witnessing Christians; acquiring rudimentary knowledge in the Bible.  They tend to become impatient with what they regard as irrelevant attitudes of programs in their churches.  They would rather develop new methods of their own and get immediately out into active ministry.

Looking back now at what I thought was the most important time in my life (I was 30 years old when I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior), I was certainly becoming impatient with the church establishment.

I knew I was gifted in Evangelism in 1972, but when attempting to develop my own methods of moving forward, I fell flat on my face– without what I thought should be successful.  But in the Meantime…I pressed on with even more confidence, knowing of GOD’S FAVOR on my life.

Even today, some 40+ years later, I am finding myself often… in the Meantime.  Maybe days, hours, minutes away from a promotion!  But now that I’ve matured spiritually, I know GOD is working for me in the MEANTIME!

Impatient Christians…

What I am saying to all such impatient Christians today, the story of Joseph is proved useful:

— He thought himself ready for leadership at seventeen…in the Meantime–the Lord had to punish him; put him through a rigorous training program before…he was ready at the age of 30 years of age.

But in the Meantime!

When the Lord brings you out of a situation, you don’t have to look like what you’ve been through.  Joseph was 17 and just 13 years away from the most important time in his life:

Thrown into a dry well by his own family…

Sold into slavery…

Then put in charge of Potiphar’s household–falsely accused of promiscuity with the bosses wife…

Thrown into prison for two years…

And in the meantime, you don’t have to look like all the hell you’ve been through.

…in the Meantime for king Jehoash – (2 Kings 13:14-19):

A great hero of the Old Testament was the Prophet ELISHA–

He was a faithful man of God and about ready to die.  He had fought the good fight, finished the course and kept the faith.

As he lies dying, he thinks of the future of God’s people and in the meantime...Elisha receives a surprise visit from Jehoash, king of the Northern Kingdom.

Now Jehoash was not a godly king, and yet, he has a great respect and admiration for ELISHA.  He even weeps at the thought of losing this godly man, seeking one last word of advice to help him as king of Israel.

Three Words that Help Describe the Meeting–

1.  VISITATION –  How important it is to visit the sick, aged, and dying–SAVED AND UNSAVED. 

…in the Meantime! – we need to take advantage of these opportunities.  JAMES 1:27 says,

“External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world”  (Amplified Bible).

2.  INSTRUCTION – Jehoash… in the meantime, wanted to know what lay ahead of Israel.

II Kings 13:15-17:

[15]  And Elisha said to him,  Take bow and arrows.  And he took bow and arrows.  [16] And he said to the king of Israel,  Put your hand upon the bow.  And he put his hand upon it, and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands.  [17] And he said,  Open the window to the east.  And he opened it.  Then Elisha said, SHOOT.  And he shot.  And he said,  The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria.  For you shall smite the Syrians in Aphek till you have destroyed them.

The king shoots an arrow to the east, indicating victory over the enemy before the event even takes place.

Then Elisha tells the king to take his arrows and strike the ground.  Jehoash, perhaps somewhat confused by now, strikes the ground 3 X’s–then stops (verse 18). 

3.  REBUKE – The Prophet scolds the king for stopping too soon.

The king could have had many great victories over his enemies.  But he limited himself on the number three.

I can just see this event happening today; a man dressed in black and a face-mask saying with a loud voice to the batter in front of him”…Three strikes and you’re out!

What happens when we as Christians make this same mistake?  We too lose out on the blessings and victories in the most important time in life.

God wants us to enjoy life:  I came that they may have and enjoy life…” (John 10:10).  When we stop too soon…things take place while we are in the Meantime!

SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS SUFFOCATED!

God’s will is for us to GROW–in Grace and Knowledge of Christ Jesus:

But grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”  (2 Peter 3:18 AMP).

Yet many of us stop too soon, and just like Jehoash…strike feeble, half-hearted blows that accomplish so little when so much MORE could happened in the Meantime!

What is lacking in the meantime?

GREAT FAITH in a great God who will never fails us.  What is needed is a ZEAL, ENTHUSIASM, DEDICATION, COMMITMENT...not to stand still but to go forward, not backward; upward to higher ground.

Too many of us are like the Hebrew Christians in Hebrews 5:12-14.  Settling for less than God intended for us to be.

Some ought to be TEACHERS…but are not!  And in the meantime…become LAZY, INDIFFERENT, COMPLACENT, LUKEWARM…Causing us to stop too soon and aim too low.  Like Joseph, we might be but a few minutes away from…PROMOTION!  We don’t see it, but it is there!

WHEN WE STOP TOO SOON, SOUL WILL BE LOST!

After Jehoash did, his nation quickly went down hill.  Glorious opportunity was knocking at his door; to defeat his enemies and turn his people back to God.  Because he didn’t, the Assyrians came in and took the nation away into captivity.

May we never forget…while in the Meantime,

Others are watching our example…following in our footsteps.

Our children will follow what they see from Mom and Dad.

Our friends will see our Christianity is not for real, and be lost eternally because of that.

Our families will never come to know Christ and be an active part of the church assembly, because we stopped too soon and said nothing to them.

DON’T STOP TOO SOON!

One more in the Meantime can make the difference in someone’s life.

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IN THE MEANTIME…DON’T STOP TOO SOON!

In prayer…be constant.

In Bible Study…be diligent.

In soul winning…be persistent.

In godly living…be committed.

In attendance…be faithful.

In giving…be generous.

As GOD was looking at Joseph’s life, GOD is watching Christians with favor–

Keep on going on for His sake…

Not giving up…

Going the extra mile…

Having FAITH that will move mountains…

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough…], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose]”  (1 Corinthians 15:58 AMP).

That ENCOURAGEMENT given to us in life is …in the Meantime!  Remember…you could be just a step away from PROMOTION!!